With neurodiversity week here, you may be discussing this important topic with your children. Each person’s brain is unique and we all process information in different ways. If we start developing a tolerant environment for all now, life will be easier for all, regardless of how their brain functions. Thankfully, being neurodiverse has become less and less stigmatised over the years, and many in the spotlight have talked openly about their disabilities.
What is neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity means that everyone’s brain is not identical; people see and interact with the world differently. The word neurodiversity is used as an umbrella term to describe brain differences people may have. These can include but are not limited to dyslexia, dyscalculia, epilepsy, and autism spectrum conditions. Just like everyone’s body looks different, everyone’s brain has its methods of navigating the world.
We have listed eight celebrities your child may recognise that you can include in your discussion about neurodiversity:
Billie Eilish – Tourette Syndrome
Your children will likely know her as one of the famous musicians of the 2010s; however, they may not know that she suffers from Tourette syndrome. Billie Eilish was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at 11 years old and did her best to hide the condition from her peers. She revealed to the world that she suffered from Tourette Syndrome at age 20 during an interview with David Letterman on his Netflix series ‘My Next Guess Needs No Introduction.’
What is Tourette Syndrome?
Tourette Syndrome is a nervous system disorder that results in a person having involuntary muscle twitches or sounds called tics. People with Tourette Syndrome tend to have multiple twitches and possibly vocal tics throughout the day. Having Tourette syndrome is not easy because there is a lack of understanding of what causes it and what it is. There is a common misconception that all Tourette Syndrome means is swearing involuntarily. It is certainly not the case. All tics are different and vary from person to person with Tourette Syndrome.
Kaya Scodelario – Dyslexia
Kaya Scodelario is a respected actress best known for her role as Teresa in The Maze Runner. Aside from her acting career, she has been vocal in making people more aware of her dyslexia and how it has affected her by tweeting and talking about it openly. In the Northern Echo, she said: ‘People don’t realise how dyslexia affects your confidence and how brutal it can be.’ Unfortunately, she suffered from bullying because of dyslexia in her younger years about her condition, which resulted in her having to move schools.
Tom Holland – Dyslexia
Another famous star with dyslexia is Tom Holland. HIs most famous acting role was in Spider-Man: Far From Home. He was diagnosed with dyslexia at seven years old. Luckily his parents managed to afford the fees for him to go to a private school. He received additional help whilst doing schoolwork. However, some people on Twitter poke fun at him for grammar and spelling errors.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disability that results in difficulties with reading, writing and spelling. A person with dyslexia may be confused by similar-looking letters, find it difficult to read a text and might not recognise familiar words straightaway. There are many signs that someone has the condition, and remember that not all people with dyslexia have the same difficulties.
Emma Watson – ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Emma Watson is one of the most recognisable actresses on this list for her performances in various movies and ongoing activism to ensure gender equality worldwide. She was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and helped launch the campaign HeForShe for the organisation in 2014. Emma Watson played the intelligent and highly perceptive Hermoine Granger in each Harry Potter movie and has been an idol to young girls throughout the 2000s. During her childhood, she took medication for ADHD to help alleviate its effects though she has never talked about the condition openly.
What is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a medical condition that affects a person’s ability to concentrate and control their behaviour. People with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, staying organised, and completing tasks. They may also be hyperactive or impulsive, which means they have difficulty sitting still or thinking before they act. ADHD can affect people of all ages and make it challenging to succeed in school, work, and relationships. ADHD often occurs in childhood between 6 to 12 years old but may be diagnosed later.
Lil Wayne – Epilepsy
Lil Wayne has worked his way up since 1995 to become a respected and admired figure in Hip-Hop music since starting his career at age 12. With five Grammys and several number-one albums under his belt, there is no doubt he works hard. Although these are brilliant achievements, you may not know that he has epilepsy; and that his seizures are stress induced.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy refers to medical conditions marked by repeating and unpredictable seizures. These seizures happen because of tumours, stroke, or abnormalities in brain development. They are an unpredicted shift of electrical activity in the brain that briefly changes its functioning. There are many types of seizures a person can experience; and you can find them on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epilepsy/symptoms/
Greta Thunberg – Autism Spectrum Disorder
Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist born on January 3rd, 2003. She gained international attention in 2018 when she started skipping school to protest outside the Swedish Parliament, demanding action on climate change. She has become a household name thanks to her outspoken views and relentless work to create a better environment. She was named Time Magazine’s Person of the year on December 13th, 2019, aged 16! She was diagnosed with Autism at 11 years old, but it has not stopped her from pursuing anything. She views her condition as a superpower and an advantage due to her being different from everyone else.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a disorder that affects an individual’s ability to communicate and socialise effectively with others. Autistic people sometimes find social interactions and communication hard and often struggle to understand nonverbal cues like facial expressions or tone of voice. They may have difficulty making eye contact, initiating conversations, understanding social norms or appropriate behaviour in different situations. People with Autism may have insular interests, routines, or repetitive behaviours that they strongly prefer or find comforting and may become upset when these are suddenly changed.
Robbie Williams – Dyscalculia
Robbie Williams is one of the most well-known British singers with various solo hits in his repertoire and as part of the 90s pop group Take That. He has been open about his ineptitude to do simple sums, remembering when his children were born and his anniversary date due to having dyscalculia.
What is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a learning difficulty in understanding how numbers work and a constant challenge to perform mental maths. People with dyscalculia will likely struggle with sums and how numbers can be bigger or smaller than each other; however, these are not maths-related problems someone with dyscalculia may have. Many people struggle with maths in their lifetime, but dyscalculia can and only should be diagnosed by a neuropsychologist or educational psychologist. Also, it does not correlate with one’s intelligence though it can make it challenging for a person to navigate through academic and professional settings that require strong mathematics skills.
Justin Timberlake – OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
The American singer revealed to the world that he had OCD in 2006 during an interview with Diane Sawyer. The condition first manifested itself when he was a young boy and resulted in him constantly washing his hands and placing objects in a particular order. He revealed that his OCD makes it challenging for him to get through daily life, but he has persevered and has not let it stop him from becoming one of the most famous singers in the world.
What is OCD?
OCD is a mental health disorder characterised by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours that can constantly interfere with a person’s daily life and activities. Obsessive thoughts are intrusive and persistent images, urges, and thoughts that cause distress and anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that a person feels driven to do to reduce anxiousness caused by their obsessions.
You should never feel ashamed for being neurodivergent! Variety is the spice of life. Visit SATs Companion, our sister website, for information on some more valiant neurodiverse people who have not allowed their conditions to stop them from achieving their goals: https://satscompanion.com/misconceptions-about-careers-for-neurodiverse-people/